COVID-19 has become a very polarizing topic for many people. Some individuals believe that it is a serious issue. Some individuals don’t believe it even exists. Others are somewhere in between. This has led to many people flouting rules regarding social distancing and mask-wearing. As a business owner it can seem hard to balance the scales between safety and not offending employees and customers. Here’s how to get it done.
Establish Clear Guidelines
Nobody likes being told that they are doing something wrong. This is especially true when they are under the impression that they know the rules and are following them. To avoid any confusion, you need to make sure that yourCOVID-19 safety rules are clear. Rather than saying, “Please maintain social distancing” use language like “Customers are required to maintain a social distance of 6 feet.” This language is much more specific. Anyone closer than 6 ft will know that they are in the wrong.
In some cases, individuals may believe that they are an exception to the rule. They may believe that they have a medical condition that excuses them from wearing a mask. Your guidelines should address these issues, and if necessary, offer alternative ways for these individuals to receive service.
Remind Customers and Employees
Sometimes, people will forget to follow the rules. In other cases, people will try to test you to see if you are going to enforce your guidelines. You can prevent any problems by proactively reminding people to follow your rules. At entrances to large businesses, you can have an employee greet customers and remind them to wear a mask. Social distancing posters can provide a helpful reminder to employees and customers. You can even have audio reminders play over the speakers every couple of minutes. At staff meetings, remind employees of their responsibilities and train them on how to encourage customers to be responsible. Through consistent messages and reminders, you’ll be able to help people understand that you are serious about your guidelines. This will go a long way towards achieving compliance.
Provide Masks, Gloves, etc.
In some cases, the best way to avoid a scene is to provide the individual with an easy way out. Rather than telling an employee or customer to go back to their car for a mask, you can make things easier by providing them with one. Those that forgot a mask will be extremely grateful. Those that hate masks will appreciate your willingness to make things convenient. You can even go one step further and provide gloves and hand sanitizer for those that are concerned. This will help customers realize that you truly care.
While compliance can be a tough battle, it is an important one. You can save many lives by helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. Customers will also appreciate that you value their safety. While some may complain about the inconvenience, that’s not nearly as bad as being blamed for endangering others. Keep up your efforts and things will start to get smoother with time.
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Legal troubles can completely eradicate a business’s success. Keeping up with legal fees as well as bad press from the media can debilitate a company’s standing in the public eye. With the rise of cancel culture through social media, it has become more important than ever before to keep your business out of trouble.
Hire Legal Counsel
One safeguard you can implement to ensure you are not breaking the law is by hiring legal counsel. Business attorneys can help you analyze business practices and inform you when a law-abiding procedure is being kept or not. This can keep you out of hot water with the authorities.
Lawyers can help you frame your company’s rules in a stricter fashion, preventing employees from breaking safety regulations. Company lawyers can also help you with your taxes—navigating you through business tax codes and getting you the best tax cut available to you. While you could hire a lawyer full-time, it is often smarter to hire them on a contract basis.
Understand Business Law
If you don’t have the money in your budget to fund frequent legal counsel, you may have to take matters into your own hands. Fortunately because of the Internet, there are many websites that provide valuable legal information. You can learn about different forms of law and figure out where the blind spots of your business are.
There are also magazines and educational dissertations that can clarify and improve your understanding of business law. You can better understand why the laws exist, and make well-educated decisions accordingly. Additional education of the law can only help you as you delve into small business ownership.
Train Employees Frequently
You should not be the only one who is getting educated in laws applicable to your business. As the company owner or manager, you have responsibility over your employees to make sure they follow legal procedures. If they do not, your company could be under fire by social media pundits.
Hold regularly scheduled training. Make sure new employees are informed about safety and health procedures so they can keep themselves out of legal trouble. If one of your workers refuses to comply, you will probably have to let them go. This shows other people how important you take rules and regulations.
By implementing these practices into your business, you are creating a more secure legal environment for yourself, your company, and your employees. Respect the law, and make rule-following a practical part of your company’s environment.
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When you work in sales, you can spend a lot of time trying to figure out the best ways to make more money. There are plenty of options available to help you maximize profits, but these few below are a great place to start.
Charge More for Services
This may seem obvious, but if you are looking to make more money from your sales, you may need to raise your prices. You may be hesitant to raise prices, but if you are undercharging for your services, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.
When evaluating prices for your services there are many things you should keep in mind. Consider the costs you incur to make the service happen and the time you invest in each service. If you spend some of your time working on marketing, you may want to adjust your hourly rates so you are paid the rate you deserve for the whole week of work.
Avoid Time Wasters
Any time you spend on the job should be spent making your business run more smoothly, marketing, and providing services. Any wasted time ends up costing you money in the long run, and by removing time wasters, you can significantly increase what you are being paid for the time you are spending at work.
Some marketing techniques are a waste of time, even those that have seemed useful in the past. Cold calling is a common method but often requires a lot of time with little reward. Social media is super effective, but running several social media accounts can be a time suck, it is much better to choose a single social media platform to start with.
Market on Social Market
Social media can be a great low-cost way to increase your sales and increase customer engagement. By making videos with good content, you can bring more attention to your brand and encourage people to use your service or products. If you have a good following online, or even when you’re just starting out, encourage followers to like, share, and follow your page as part of a giveaway. You can also pay for social media ads which can be another fairly inexpensive way to increase your sales.
Making money when you work in sales can be a big task, but by taking action and avoiding wasting time, you can maximize your profits and minimize the extra time you have to spend on it.
5 tips for starting your own business
(BPT) - There’s no doubt the pandemic has hit small businesses hard. Even in its early weeks, February to April 2020, the number of active businesses plummeted by 22%, according to a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research. And unfortunately, the consequences of the early shutdowns impacted minority-owned businesses even harder, with Black-owned businesses seeing a 41% drop, Latinx businesses 32%, Asian businesses 26% and women-owned businesses 25%.
Does that bad news mean that now is the wrong time to consider starting a new business? Not necessarily. Opportunities exist for small businesses today, including support and funding for start-ups — and especially for minority business owners.
If you want to start a small business, here are steps to get you started.
1. Do your research
First, make sure you understand the current market for your business. This step is crucial to turn an idea into a full-fledged business plan.
Ask questions like:
Ask other business owners about their challenges and rewards to explore whether this is a good option for you. Use market analysis tools recommended by resources such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) to get to know the market for your business.
2. Write a business plan
No business can find funding, investors or partners without a solid business plan. Learning to write a comprehensive plan also forces you to fully think through every aspect of your proposed idea. The SBA is a great resource to research types of business plans.
Enlist the help of other business owners during the process if you can to understand how their plans helped them and what to avoid.
3. Fund your business
Every business needs capital to get started. Your business plan’s financial section should provide a clear idea of the capital you need to launch. Most businesses rely on multiple financial sources, including:
SBA loans can be a good option. For example, Huntington Lift Local Business is a small-business lending program focused on serving minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses. Huntington is a top SBA 7(a) lender that has developed creative lending options and other features to help bring relief, recovery and growth to small businesses across the Midwest.
With Huntington's program, businesses can secure SBA-guaranteed loans from $1,000 and up to $150,000 with:
“The economic uncertainty sparked by the pandemic has highlighted the need for increased financial opportunity for everyone starting or sustaining their small businesses,” said Huntington’s SBA program director, Maggie Ference. “Everyone deserves a shot at success, and our program delivers a new solution to customers when they need it most, whether for a startup or an established business looking to grow.”
4. Develop a marketing plan
Creating a brand identity and communicating it well is crucial to success. Consider hiring or contracting marketing services to help you choose your business name, create a logo, build your website and develop a strategic marketing plan to get the word out about your business.
5. Take care of business
Dotting the Is and crossing the Ts is necessary for any business. Details include choosing your business location and registering your business, applying for all the required licenses and permits, including federal and state tax IDs — plus opening your business bank account. Also, consulting an accountant with experience helping small businesses can ensure you have your business and financial ducks in a row.
Starting a small business is a daunting challenge, but it can also be a rewarding opportunity. Taking the time to fully explore and utilize all the resources at your disposal can help ensure that your new business will be a success.
With winter on its way, there seem to be so many things for your business to do. While you want to make sure that you can end the year on a high note, it’s also important that you pay enough attention to preparing your building for winter. Thinking about specific aspects of your building’s maintenance can help you make an effective winter care plan.
Checking your insulation is one of the best ways to ensure that your building stays comfortable during winter. But also, checking your insulation and adding more if necessary, will help you save a significant amount of money in utilities bills.
When it comes to checking your insulation, have your inspector pay special attention to the upper part of the building. Heat tends to exit up and out of a building. So having good insulation around your roof will make a big difference in ensuring heat stays inside the building.
Maintain Your Heat System
It’s essential that you check your building’s heating system before winter sets in. There is hardly anything worse to have to deal with than a broken heating system when it’s 15 degrees outside.
Even if you do not suspect that your heating system has any major damage or problems, it’s good to have it inspected before winter. Doing this allows you to identify any inefficiencies that may cause it to lose heat and thus lose money for you and your company.
As winter gets closer, repair leaks or other damage in the roof is essential. It’s important that you look for any missing shingles or any damage on the inside of the building’s ceiling that could have come from water leaking.
In addition to looking for leaks, you should also get your roof inspected to make sure that its drainage is functioning properly. Even if the roof is in good shape, if the drainage is not working well, you could end up having other major problems.
Protect Your Pavement
There are a variety of things to consider as you’re preparing your pavement for winter. You want to check the surface of the pavement for any potholes or other damage that may need to be corrected.
You also want to make sure that the pavement is properly sealed. This will ensure the concrete does not expand or morph during the winter as a result of cold temperatures. Sealcoating holds asphalt together and extends the life of your pavement.
Test Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
It’s also very important that you test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before the winter sets in. Cold weather and cold temperatures can affect batteries. If you don’t check your smoke detectors and replace batteries regularly, you could have lots of false alarms during the winter. Because these detectors play such a critical role in assuring everyone’s safety, you want them to be fully functioning during all the months of the year. Checking them before winter sets in will just protect you from possibly turning the detectors off because of annoying beeping from faulty batteries.
Prepare Lobby Areas
Of all places in your business’s building, your lobby area is one of the highest trafficked. As you prepare for winter, consider your specific preparations to make sure this area stays safe and clean. You’ll especially want to pay particular attention to the flooring here. Is it damaged at all? How is the sealant?
You might need to reseal areas of the tile in the entryway to ensure you don’t have further cracking or problems as winter becomes more harsh. You also want to make sure that you have enough coarse matting in and outside your building to prevent damage but more importantly, to prevent injury.
It’s easy to make the mistake of not having enough mats around your lobby area. Sometimes, businesses will have some matts right in the entry area as clients and employees walk through the doors but before they enter the actual lobby. While it is essential to have mats here, you should also have mats outside the building and in the lobby area as well. Having mats in all these areas will ensure that your business stays safe and clean.
Make a Better Snow Removal Plan
It’s essential that you consider your snow removal techniques before winter comes around. If you want to prevent potential damage and ensure the safety of your guests and employees, planning to have someone from building maintenance shovel snow every now and then won’t be enough.
Start by considering the unique situation of your building. Are there areas of your building exterior that need particular attention? Maybe there are some areas of the walkway to your building that are more prone to ice because they are heavily shaded.
Or maybe there is a certain part of your parking lot that has a few potholes. After examining these areas of your building, make a plan. Maybe you’ll need to communicate with your building manager that you hope to have the shaded part of your walkway salted twice as often as the others. Maybe you’ll need to have potholes filled before winter really sets in. Doing these things can make a big difference in your building’s safety throughout the winter season.
Check Your Foundation and Walls for Mold
In addition to making a better snow removal plan, you should also think about inspecting your building’s foundation every now and then. When there has been water buildup over time, foundations and walls can start to develop mold. Mold can have negative effects not only for your building but also for client and employee health.
Preparing for the winter and holiday season can be busy enough. But even in the hustle and bustle of the season, you shouldn’t forget to make sure your business’s building is ready for winter. Thinking about these suggestions can help you get started with ensuring that your building will stay safe, clean and warm throughout the season.
Read this next: How to Start a Business When You Don’t Feel Qualified
The holiday season is approaching quickly, and now is the time to prepare. Whether your company is younger or older, smaller or bigger, there are some complications that come from the holiday influx of business, and it is difficult to know exactly how to prepare. Here are some quick ideas to consider.
Hire Seasonal Employees
Many businesses, especially retail businesses, need extra help during the holiday season. Though you can look internally and ask your current employees for longer hours and offer overtime pay or bonuses, it’s important to consider hiring seasonal employees. It’s a common practice to hire seasonal employees to meet holiday demands. Especially in a year like 2020, providing this work could be very valuable.
According to Harver, finding skilled seasonal employees takes time. Start early in your search for seasonal employees so you can find the best and most committed employees. Remember to always plan ahead. Be sure to prepare the training they will need carefully.
Take Out a Line of Credit
Operating during holiday expansion can be expensive. Consider what it costs to hire extra employees, increase on-demand inventory, rent extra storage, update your website, and increase operation hours. These are all expensive endeavors. Besides these, there are often other costs that you don’t expect.
One way to combat these extra expenses is by taking out a line of credit. A business line of credit acts similarly to a credit card. As you use money on the line of credit, you build a balance and that balance begins to build interest. This allows you to pay things off as they come up, without having to pull a loan for a specific purpose.
Finding the right lender is important. Research potential vendors and their requirements to take out a line of credit. According to HDA Financial, lenders usually prioritize businesses that have been around for two years or more.
Update Your Website
Depending on your website’s hosting provider, there might be limits on how many resources your site can consume. If these limits are exceeded from increased traffic (such as from a promotion or sale), you might have some expensive surprises on your invoice, or worse, degraded performance or outright failure of your website. Make sure that you’ve prepared your website to be able to handle the load so that you don’t get any nasty surprises or missed business.
According to Web FX, you will also want to make sure your website is extremely accessible. There are tools and technologies that you can use to make sure your website is navigable to blind people. You should evaluate how well your website performs on poor Internet connections as well. Fine-tuning your site to make it friendlier to use no matter who is accessing it or where they are accessing it from makes a more pleasant shopping experience and better business.
The holiday season is exciting, but a little stressful for business owners and those anticipating increased work. But don’t worry. Start by following the steps above, and you’ll be on your way to a successful holiday season.
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Knowing how to properly manage your inventory is an essential skill to learn. You can better understand when and how to stock your items, keep track of trends, and establish good practices. Doing so can allow you to optimize your inventory and overall benefit your business.
Keep Extra of Popular Items
When choosing what to stock, it’s important that you know what your most popular items are. These items will sell quicker and people will be eager to get them. You wouldn’t want to risk running out of a popular item, especially in the middle of a busy season. To help manage stocking these popular products, you should consider a classification system within your store. You can classify items by popularity so you can know which items to prioritize. Along with knowing how popular an item is, you should be aware of the demand for it. This will help you determine just how much stock you should have on hand.
Record Relevant Data
When you keep track of your inventory and sales data, you can make more informed decisions about what to stock. For example, you can keep track of what does and doesn’t sell. Understanding what products sell best lets you optimize your stock. You can know what to keep on hand and what you can have a limited stock of. Having this data also allows you to evaluate your products. If a product is consistently not selling well, then maybe it’s time to discontinue that product. On the other hand, if certain products are doing well you can increase the stock of those products and anything similar. It doesn’t do much good if you only make guesses and estimates about your products. Record data and use it to optimize your inventory.
One way to keep everything organized is to establish policies for how your inventory should be stocked. Having these policies in place ensures that everyone is stocking and restocking in the same way. Policies also make sure everything is consistent and predictable. One policy you can employ is a classification system. When you classify items, you can group them by value, by type, or any other factor. You can make it easier to find products and maintain organization.
Your inventory is an important part of your business so you should give it plenty of attention. You want to make sure your inventory is well organized and that you have a clear system in place for stocking. Take time to plan out how you can best optimize your inventory.
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When you run a business, you know that drawing in new customers is incredibly important. By working to reach a new audience and effectively retain customers, you can create a business model that will beat out the competition every time.
Learning to communicate effectively and concisely is a skill that is unusual in a lot of business circles. Concision in writing helps you to get to the point quickly and effectively. This is especially important because our world is fast paced, and people don’t have time to read a novel on every service and product they need. Keep things simple in your writing so your customers don’t need any extra knowledge to understand what you’re talking about. Make your sentences short and to the point.
Good Design Instincts
An eye for design is a great skill that can help you reach your audience effectively. Your website especially needs to have strong design because it is sometimes the only thing your customers will see before deciding whether or not to use your business. If you don’t design it well, 38% of people will leave your website soon after engaging with it. Simple, clear design can support your message and help your audience access your services more easily. The more quickly customers can get to what they need and the more sense the design makes, the better.
Customers are more likely to come back to your business time and time again if you are able to show them that you listen to what they have to say. Active listening is a great skill that can set you apart from other businesses and help you have a better understanding of what your competition is looking for.
When you’re talking to customers, give them your undivided attention. This helps you develop rapport and show them you care about their needs. Nodding and answering when appropriate can show them that you're listening. Wait until you have the whole picture before making decisions or jumping in with answers. Sometimes answering too early can make you miss the point or be unhelpful.
Bringing in new customers is always the goal when running a business. Luckily, there are many skills you can develop to continue growing your client base. By gaining new customers and taking care of your existing clients, you can create a business that will survive the most challenging times.
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